Crap I Think of While Mowing the Lawn – # 20

(other than This Lawn Looks Like Crap)

 

Interesting, if not always deep, thoughts often pop into my head while I’m doing battle with my lawn. And yes, I do battle with a non-gas, non-electric, old-fashioned push mower. An actual reel mower. And my mind tends to think of some semi-interesting crap while I push along.

 

Mower and Statesman

Welcome to Volume 20 of Crap I Think of While Mowing the Lawn.

 

BACK TO THE LINC

After teaching my fourth-grade class this morning, or the majority of it before sliding out a little early, I’ll be off to Lincoln Financial Field to watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Washington Redskins. As much I live and die, if only figuratively most the time, with the fortunes of my Philly teams, this will only be the third Eagles game I’ve attended at the Linc. The Eagles have called it home since 2003.

It should be a very nice day to kick off the literal fall season—with temps crashing the 80s. Of course, the weather will just be an incidental element if the Birds lose this divisional matchup.

This reminds me that I haven’t really commented about all of the crapola that has hit the NFL shield over the last few weeks. With only about 15 minutes to opine about various topics, I’ll go into my hurry-up offense. Call it the type-and-shoot, with you, dear friends, having the read-and-share option.

ROGER GOODELL

It’s not a comfortable thing to call for someone to be fired, whether he makes a reported $44.2 million the previous year, or toils for $10 per hour. The former compensation, of course, applies to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and despite his apparent arrogance, insensitivity (mostly to domestic abuse), inconsistencies and downright cluelessness, he works for the 32 NFL team owners. As such, he’ll be replaced only if those owners feel that all of those less-than-flattering descriptions (if they even agree with my analysis) are harming their brand (the all powerful shield) to the point where they’re not making as much money as they think they can under someone else’s leadership.

In other words, don’t hold your breath for that kind of change unless Goodell really screws up—whatever that level of screw-up would look like. I shudder to envision such a thing.

NOTE: I can’t believe it’s now been three days since I started this piece. In the meantime, I enjoyed the Eagles ultra-exciting, 37-34 victory over the Redskins, the US and some type of Arab coalition has attacked ISIS in Syria (not that I want to talk about anything so serious now) and the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, begins this evening.

 

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS

My first thought is that I’ve been thinking much more about crap than I’ve been writing and blogging about it. So here come some quick encapsulations of some things I’ve been thinking about regarding the NFL mess.

BACK TO THE SHIELD

The NFL seems to be in dire straits. On-field issues alone have seemed to change the nature of the game, as there is an ongoing debate as to which rules to adopt to somewhat negate concussions and other debilitating injuries. This topic deserves its own column or two.

Off the field, we have had one mess after another over the last several months. A spate of recent NFL-related incidents has inspired debates on the following issues: gun control; bullying, domestic abuse and child abuse.

With all that…and I will conduct a lightning round to cryptically address the latter two…I don’t think that any of these factors, or even the combined effect of them, spell imminent doom for the NFL. After all, we tend to put issues behind us, and just fixate on the game itself. How hard is it, really, to compartmentalize such things? Rhetorical.

 

LIGHTNING ROUND

It’s unrealistic to expect each NFL team, or the league as a whole, to exert a lot of control over their employees when they are on their own time. I hear my internal Captain Obvious saying that incidents, minor and otherwise will happen, in roughly the same proportion as in society as a whole. Perhaps, even in greater proportions, when you combine everything that the lifestyle brings to many: wealth (in some cases); fame, adulation and the public spotlight; temptation; injury, pressure and strength.

Goodell was seen by most followers as a strong (if quite arrogant), no-nonsense commish who was looking to clean up the public perception of NFL players with his enforcement of a somewhat controversial Personal Conduct Policy. With an exception or two, the “PCP” (hmmm) seemed to be working pretty well until the Ray Rice incident. And now, all the shit that was supposed to be together (and mostly neutralized) has broken free, hit the fan, and gone viral. And yes, I realize that my last sentence was almost beautifully horrid.

The Personal Conduct Policy

I’m not sure about this whole concept, for the NFL and for all companies. But, let’s assume that it is legal for a league, or a company, to impose penalties beyond what our legal system may dole out. It’s still a bit problematic, as Roger and company are finding out. And it’s especially problematic when you appear to treat recreational drug abuse as a much more serious offense than spousal abuse. When you combine such disparate treatment (and insensitivity) with an attempt to give preferential treatment to certain teams or players, “problematic” is an understatement. And when you add lies, deception, cover-ups and incompetence, what you have is what we have right now.

I will assume, dear readers, that you are conversant enough with the following that I don’t have to provide any links or background. Yes, time is running out for me to get on with this.

RAY RICE

Before the elevator incident and the horrible knockout punch to his then-fiancée (and now-wife) Janay, I “liked” Ray Rice in the way that most fans like players. I’m not a Baltimore Ravens fan, but I admired the plucky, versatile running back who seemed to be a good guy. Having no use for Ray Lewis (the controversial and now-retired franchise linebacker), I was, at least superficially a fan of the other Ray, who seemed to do and say the right things. Yes, that has all changed, quite alarmingly, due to what happened in that Atlantic City elevator.

For anyone who has seen the video, it’s a horrible thing to watch, and consider. And I don’t care what preceded it, if anything. Nobody in their right mind could claim that anything Janay had said or done could have conceivably provoked Rice to rear back and flatten her with a haymaker. Totally sickening, and inexcusable. If she had a gun or a knife (of course, she didn’t) and was physically attacking him, you could see him doing what needed to be done to stop and restrain her. Yell, curse, duck, grab her arms, tackle her. Do what you need to do to survive, if that were the case…and no, that was not remotely the case that late night.

There is no conceivable scenario that can excuse his violent attack. It would not be excusable, as any type of self-defense, even if that were a guy who was threatening him. Of course, the person he attacked and then dragged out of the elevator was his fiancée and the mother of their beautiful daughter, Rayven. Abominable.

With all that said in truth and passion, my greatest emotion is not connected to an impulse to want to incarcerate Ray Rice. Yes, if he were prosecuted and served jail time, I would not complain. And if arresting and convicting him would really serve as a deterrent to future atrocities, then, yeah, lock him up. Today, yesterday, whenever…

My greatest contempt is reserved for all those (the Ravens management/ownership, Goodell and the NFL suits) who did not take this attack seriously in the first place. If they acted promptly and suspended him indefinitely pending a thorough investigation (they did neither, or if they did the latter, they lied about doing so), this story would never have gotten the attention it has. If he were suspended initially for a full season, or even 8 games, there wouldn’t be all the (well-placed, to a great degree) outrage.

Which brings me to…

Janay Rice

As a man, and as someone who has never been in an abusive relationship, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be abused or attacked in a personal relationship. She and her husband, Ray, of course, are human beings, and not statistics. It is speculative to make any assumptions about the depth of their love, or what she may or not have been subjected to before (and even since) the elevator atrocity.

I try to imagine what it would be like if I were introduced to the world in such a terrible, pathetic way. And then, if I truly wanted to still try to make things work in my marriage…and it’s unfair to speculate as to her frame of mind and sincerity…that I would be portrayed by so many as one or more of the following:

 

  • just another battered woman
  • an idiot
  • a gold-digger
  • even worse

What has been done to Janay Rice (and by extension, her daughter) has been monumentally unfair, and yes, her husband Ray has the greatest culpability. But the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL also deserve a great part of the blame. She really deserved so much better—in so many respects.

WELL, SO MUCH FOR THE LIGHTNING ROUND…

And, I didn’t even get to Adrian Peterson, who I always respected to a great extent: amazing player, great work ethic, quiet—who, to put it mildly, hasn’t a clue what it means to have a healthy love for his children. There’s way too much to go into here, but I would only want him locked up if it would truly serve as a deterrent to child abuse. (Do you sense a pattern?) Yes, there are cultural differences, and it appears that he was raised by a sick and abusive father who was even more clueless about how to raise children, but there is no excusing his “whupping” of his own precious four-year-old son. Sickening, and kind of horrifying, when you read about it…and that’s even before looking at any of the pictures!

I respect the fact that parents and caretakers have different approaches to raising and disciplining their children. But there is absolutely no justifying bruising or causing physical harm and injury to your (or anyone else’s) sons and daughters. And there is no way to call it “discipline” when you are incapable of any self-discipline in such matters.

I pray that Peterson is barred from seeing any and all of his children until and unless it can be proven (impossible, but the closest thing to it) that he presents no danger to them.

A FINAL WORD AMONG MANY

On the cusp of the Jewish New Year, it is time to think about how we can improve as human beings. It is time to take account of ourselves, offer amends to those we have wronged in some ways, and to pray to God for our collective sins. We have fallen short, okay, I have fallen short, in so many ways once again.

Once again, I have broken many of my internal promises — vows that I have broken, with negative implications for myself and for my family, and perhaps, others.

One promise I made six-plus years ago to myself, my wife, and to my son, Benny, was that I would never spank him. Good people may differ on this issue, and yes, there have been situations that have frustrated me: situations when I have just had to walk away and try to calm myself. When you love somebody so much…

Yet, this is one promise that I can’t, and will not, break. Self-discipline is not always my strong suit, but my own belief is that any kind of physical punishment to children sends the wrong message.

One day Benny will grow up, and inevitably, he will grow to be stronger (if not bigger) than me. Preceding that, as much as I don’t want to think about it too often, he won’t be as receptive to hugging me, and my picking him him up will be out of the question for a variety of reasons.

I know all this, and yet, hugging my son (as well as reading with him… and now hearing him read so beautifully…talking with him, and playing with him) is one of life’s greatest simple pleasures. I try to see these moments through his expressive eyes, and remember what it was like to be hugged and held by my own dad.

What if those same hands and arms that are designed to provide security, warmth and love for him, were used to strike him—whether in anger, or with a true (supposed) sense of discipline. Perhaps, he could handle that if that were our approach; I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that it would tear me to pieces to ever do so.

Call me soft or even selfish if your philosophy is different, but I believe that this is a selfishness that benefits both of us.

On that note…Shana Tova to those who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, and a sweet year of love, prosperity, good health and peace to all.

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